Tag Archives: vegetarian

Pre-travel roast beetroot soup with quinoa


Phew, third shower of the day and it’s only early afternoon….. Accra is getting stickier, about 32C and only 67% humidity, not really that bad. We hear Tamale (in the north) still has heavy harmattan, so we cannot really complain. This morning I’ve moved all my last things out of my friend’s storage room (boy’s quarters…. tiny), so my rented room is now a Jenga-like stack of kitchen tools, dismantled floor fans and suitcases.  I’m off to Rome for work next week, and had a plethora of vegetables in the fridge, so this roast beetroot soup with quinoa was concocted while schlepping bits of an office chair, a table top and legs, an increasingly rickety drying rack and more through the flat.

I have been flathunting in Accra with two colleagues, and we may now have found a nice flat. Discussions are still ongoing regarding burglar bars and lease agreement, but we are crossing our fingers for a move later this month. I gave away most of my moving boxes to friends last year so will be moving again in bags and baskets, and am just hoping that bed linens and clothes have not gotten too moldy since November. We shall see.


Really, you could make some variation on this with most root vegetables…. This is just what I had to use up before traveling. I try to buy local produce here, and was vaguely thinking of a beetroot risotto with feta, but soup is what these beetroots ended up in. Most of the soup will end up in the freezer so I have lunch ready for a few days when I am back in Accra, which might also be our moving week. After three months living out of suitcases, it will be very nice to actually unpack again.

Roast beetroot soup with quinoa and red rice

1 kg peeled beets, quartered  (about 2 pounds)
1 large diced potato, quartered
3 carrots, peeled (mine were wizened but fine for soup)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 clove garlic, peeled but whole
1 tbs olive oil

4 stalks celery, diced (last of my precious post-Christmas UK celery)
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tbs olive oil

2 litres vegetable stock (here, from two stock cubes)
1/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup red rice
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Heat the oven to 220C. Line a baking sheet sheet with baking parchment or aluminum foil. Spread out the vegetables, drizzle over some olive oil and let the vegetables roast until soft when pierced with a sharp knife.  I left them in about 35 minutes, then turned off oven and left them in another 15 minutes or so.

In the meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a big saucepan, and gently fry the celery and bell peppers until soft. Then tip in the roast vegetables, 2 litres of vegetable stock and blend well with an immersion blender if you have one. Then add the quinoa and red rice (or plain rice, or lentils, whatever you feel like adding for a bit more body) and spices, and bring the soup to the boil. Cook until quinoa and rice are soft, 25 minutes or so. Taste and see if you want to add more spices, salt or pepper.


It was very nice! Quite thick, good flavours and a little crunch from the quinoa. Maybe some feta on top as well? It was a generous pot of soup, so six portions are now cooling and destined for the freezer, and there is plenty left for this weekend as well. Enjoy your weekend!


Split pea and sweet potato soup, and plastic recycling

grilled plantain Accra

Grilled plantain, in Cantonments, Accra. We were heading to the airport and traffic was slow. The eight kilometers to Kotoka Airport can take fifteen minutes, or an hour and a half, you never quite know.  But I’d had  this pea soup for lunch, tasty and filling, which helps maintain patience. Normally I’d make split yellow pea soup with salt ham, or salt pork knuckle and maybe leeks, in a more Nordic style. But this was more what we had in the house, and it was good.

Split yellow pea soup with sweet potatoes

Split yellow peas: 2 cups soaked and cooked the day before
2 sweet potatoes: sliced and roasted
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Fresh ginger: about 3 cm, peeled and chopped
One onion: peeled and chopped
2 tsp powdered turmeric
1 litre vegetable stock

Fry up onion, garlic, ginger. Add sliced, roasted sweet potatoes. If you did not have time to roast them (I had leftovers from another dish), just chuck them in the pan with the onions and and let them soften a  bit. Then I added the split yellow peas, mine were already cooked for lasagna a couple days earlier. (Again, if you do not have cooked split peas on hand, just use split peas that you have soaked for a few hours, to cut down on cooking time.) Add the stock, and cook 15 min or so – longer if using uncooked sweet potatoes and uncooked split peas. Then blended it all with an immersion blender to a thick soup. Add more liquid if like it looser. Good soup to eat from a mug  (we did that while watching the French series The Bureau, so far very good), along with a slice of freshly baked and buttered bread.

So non-photogenic, I should have added a sprig  of something or a token swirl of yogurt….

Accra often surprises me in good ways, like the cheerful garbage truck men. Here collecting from the bakery next door, which is very busy despite not being cheap. Fancy new cars line up to get breakfast, our street gets busy in the mornings. Many do burn rubbish  (I can smell some right now) and the Accra waste situation is challenging. There is a push by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to turn Accra into the cleanest city in the whole of Africa, we will see. At least Environment360 is doing inspirational work on recycling (mainly plastic) and education, which is great to see. Now I just need to get my plastic to a recycling point…..

Garbage truck Accra

There have been suggestions to ban plastic bags in Ghana, like Kenya recently did. It will come, I am sure. We bring cloth bags to the supermarket, to avoid coming home with eight yellow plastic Shoprite bags after each trip, though that is not so common here. We were told off only once for bringing our own bags (Marina Mall), but not since. Of course my carbon footprint is terrible (air travel), and I really should bring a fabric bag or paper bag to buy my eggs from the the corner shop (a sweet lady in a half-container shack) rather than as here, double-bagged in the thin black bags. Next time!



Roast pumpkin lasagna with yellow peas

On my way to work: parts of Accra are very modern. And yes, the taxis and trotros (minibus taxis) here generally have religious text on the back window, like above. You might see BLESSED, JUDGMENT DAY, THE DEVIL IS A LIAR, or BE HUMBLE. Friday we had a massive rainstorm, plenty of time in traffic to read window slogans.

After three months of cooler weather (under 28C) here in Accra, the heat is coming back. Phew. After a grocery run to Marina Mall (for cheapest UHT milk) by Uber yesterday  morning, I was already feeling woozy from the heat. And it’s not even that hot yet…. Still, I am really happy I spent the last weekends sorting through cupboards and closets so most of that is done before we move. Risengrynsgrøt (Norwegian rice porridge) is now spluttering away in the slow cooker, and chickpeas are soaking for tomorrow. We are working our way through the food left: lots of pulses, seeds and mystery ice-crusted boxes in the freezer. So far it is still a fun challenge: buy fresh vegetables and fruit, soak and cook a batch of beans/lentils/cowpeas in the slowcooker, and see what we can cook. Last weekend it was a dried split yellow peas, which ended up in soup and this lasagna.

Roast pumpkin lasagna with split yellow peas

500g pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce:
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stick of celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 vegetarian stock cube
1 cup of split yellow peas, soaked overnight and cooked
Roast pumpkin
Enough water to make sauce loose enough to spread: 1/2 litre or so

Make 1/2 litre of bechamel sauce:
50g plain flour
50g butter
500ml milk
salt, pepper
pinch of nutmeg

10-12 dry lasagna sheets
300g of grated cheese (I used defrosted scarmorza and cheddar)

Night before: soak the split yellow peas, if using. The ones I have take ages to cook even when soaked, despite the package saying soaking not needed. Lentils would be fine too. I try to eat meat-free most of the week, so we have a big stash of pulses. The first year of our mortgage we were so broke, and ate so much beans and lentils…. it is a real luxury to be eating this way by choice, not of necessity.


Cut the pumpkin into 2 cm slices. Drizzle with oil, and roast in a foil-lined tin at 200C for 25 min or so, until soft. (Shoprite had local pumpkin already peeled,  a nice shortcut. I chopped and roasted the pumpkin the night before, when we were making pizza and the oven was on anyway. Stored in fridge overnight once cool.)

Cook split yellow peas: drain soaking water, covert with water and cook until soft. Then drain. (Mine stayed slightly crunchy, so I blitzed them with immersion blender to speed up cooking.)

Make pumpkin sauce: Sauté chopped onion and garlic, add cooked split yellow peas and roast pumpkin. Cook 20 min or so. Salt and pepper to taste. With immersion blender, blend until relatively smooth. You’ll need to add some water to make it loose enough to spread.

Make bechamel sauce: melt butter, stir in flour, then whisk in milk and bring to boil while stirring, until sauce thickens and is smooth. Stir in 2/3 of the grated cheese, stir until melted.

Assemble lasagna: Grease a roasting tin lightly. Spread a layer of pumpkin sauce on base, then a layer of dry lasagna sheets, then a layer of bechamel sauce, with a handful of grated cheese. Keep layering, finish with bechamel and cheese. Bake for 40 mins at 200C.


Very un-photogenic, but tasty (all that cheese helped, use less if you prefer.) Also made this week:

Today: Norwegian Christmas dinner with ribbe, surkål, kålrabistappe, raspeballer, flatbrød, tyttebærsyltetøy, akevitt, riskrem. Perfect in the heat! Not really, but the freezer seems to take forever to empty,  so big steps needed. Eight weeks left until we move, but I am waiting to see the paperwork before I start giving away cutlery, plates, bookshelves, clothes and such. Not much clutter here, except in the Corner of Doom (things to use up in kitchen). Paella spices? We’ll soak some of that dried salted cod, and make fishcakes and a fishy saffron rice dish. Oodles of sesame seeds and tahini? Tahini cookies coming up. Maybe a chickpea pumpkin curry tomorrow, we shall see. A good Sunday to all.